Leeds Mercury (28/Mar/1907) - Dora Thewlis Home Again

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


Smuggled Out of London by the Authorities.



Dora Thewlis, the youthful suffragette, has come home to Huddersfield. She plunged into the stormy vortex of the suffragette movement for a brief week, and has had enough of it. More will be heard of her, for a question is to be raised in Parliament concerning her detention ; but even the cause of the Women’s Social and Political Union will not tempt her to London from her native town again.

Dora was the first prisoner to be brought before Mr. Horace Smith at Westminster Police-court yesterday morning, and she only occupied the narrow-railed platform which serves for a dock for two minutes. She was hurried in at two minutes past eleven, almost running into the dock. She did not venture to glance even in the direction of her friends, Mrs. Martyn[1] and Mrs. Despard[2], the hon. secretaries of the Women's Social and Political Union, with whom she had come to London.

Confronting the benevolent-looking magistrate, the prisoner hardly looked fitted for the role of a Social revolutionary. With her shawl carelessly flung about her shoulders and her hair dishevelled, she had a most forlorn appearance. Her cheeks were, deadly pale, and her dark eyes had none of the lustre of youth.


To picture this frail delicate-looking specimen of girlhood, who hardly looked more than school age, as a violent agitator, to be suppressed in the interests of public safety, was incongruous indeed. Though she is nearly seventeen, Dora does not look it. Tremulously she clutched the rail in front of her, and stood waiting for the magistrate to speak.

"I understand you are willing to go home?" said Mr. Smith.

"Yes sir," replied the girl eagerly.

"You wish to go?" — the magistrate seemed to desire to be quite certain.

"Yes sir."

"Very well. I will make arrangements."

Turning at a touch from an officer who stood by her side, Dora quickly passed through a side door, which was held open. She was followed at once by Mrs. Despard and Mrs. Martyn, but they did not succeed in overtaking her, and had to be content with a conversation with the Court Missionary in the passage. Mrs. Martyn was protesting against the idea of Dora being sent in a train with a man, when the missionary mildly replied that it was by no means certain that he would have to accompany her.

Subsequently Mrs. Martyn sent a note to the magistrate asking what the arrangement would be, but the message she received by an officer was "No answer."

Interviewed afterwards, Mrs. Martyn spoke in terms of violent indignation of the treatment to which the girl had been subjected.

Mrs. Martyn further stated that she intends to write to the Home Secretary concerning the London "Evening News" interview, and also about the prison dress question.



The wardress, who took through tickets for herself and her charge to Huddersfield, attempted to prevent any one from gaining access to the girl. She shook her fist at the photographers, who had followed from Westminster, and is even alleged to have referred to them as "cads."

However, Mrs. Martyn succeeded in having a short conversation with Miss Thewlis.

To the girl's question, "Are you annoyed with me?" Mrs. Martyn replied, "No ; certainly not," and expressed her approbation

Miss Thewlis seemed perfectly happy and contented, and said she "Was going on with it worse than ever in Huddersfield." She also told Mrs. How Martyn that she was "all right."

Miss Thewlis eventually left at two o'clock, the women suffragists having thoughtfully sent sandwiches and chocolates into her carriage.

To a representative one of the most prominent workers connected with the Women’s Social and Political Union explained that it was their fault that this had happened. "Her mother was supposed to have come, but at the very last moment circumstances prevented her, and she sent Dora in her stead."

Our informant expressed the strong desire of the Union that nobody under 21 should take part in the demonstrations. "I myself," she said, "would have come earlier, but they did not want it to be said that the demonstrators were only girls, so I waited till I was 21, and then came up and went through with it."



Miss Thewlis’s return to her home at Huddersfield last night failed to excite practically any public interest ; in fact, the station platform into which the Great Northern train from London due at 7.17 p.m. drew presented a far from busy scene. The local members of the Women's Social and Political Union were absent, and when the train arrived, about thirteen minutes late, Dora's mother and three sisters and a body of Pressmen appeared to be the only persons who anticipated something out of the ordinary.

Dora, who was wearing a hat and a brown shawl, looked out of the carriage window and waved her hat to her relatives. As soon as the train came to a standstill, she quickly made her way to her mother, whom she embraced along with her sisters.

After this little ceremony was over, one of the reporters approached Dora, who looked pale and seemed to be fairly tired out with her long journey from the metropolis.


As soon as the young girl was spoken to she quickly replied, "You must not speak to me ; I shan’t say anything."

Miss Thewlis had made the journey in the care of an elderly lady connected with the Westminster Police Court, who. addressing the members of the Press, said : “You are newspaper men, and I am sent by the magistrate, and I forbid you to speak to her."

Dora then walked away with her mother and sisters, and on reaching the top of the steps leading from the subway into St. George Square, she was greeted by several cabmen, who made such observations as "Here’s Dora."

Miss Thewlis was seen by our representative last night at the home of her parents, in Hawthorne Terrace, Huddersfield. She was most reluctant in saying anything. Her only remark in reply to questions put was "She was glad to get home ; she had not fought far enough, and she would go back again."

Mr. Thewlis brought the interview to a close by looking at his daughter, and saying "S'sh, s'sh."

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